New Developments

Click here to print this page

There have been exciting developments within our programs and service delivery over the past six months that I would like to share with you.

The Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (TC LHIN) provides funding to the MDAO to support families who have a loved one between the ages of 15-35 who experience a first episode of psychosis and a mood disorder. Last year, we assisted over 479 family members and their loved ones who qualified for ongoing services
through the Early Intervention Psychosis Program. What we found was that for every family who qualified under the Early Intervention Psychosis mandate, we had another four families who sought our help for loved ones with varying degrees of mental illness, including those with histories of trauma and concurrent disorders. We had the capacity to provide only brief support to these families; unfortunately, they were unable to take advantage of our family recovery programs and clinical support because of the specific mandate of our funded programming.

We thought: ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could increase our funded capacity to assist these families?’ Our proposed service model would include comprehensive interventions for families and their loved ones within a recovery-oriented, peer, and family-supportive environment. In November of last year, our dream became a reality when we received additional funding from the TC LHIN to do just that, and our new Family Matters Peer Support and Recovery Program was born.

With our new Family Matters Program, we can now develop and build a sustainable family peer support and recovery program that supports the whole family – parents, spouses, siblings, and other caregivers. Family members will be able to share what they have learned from MDAO’s clinical support and recovery programs
and offer support to one another. This program will broaden the scope of support for families beyond those experiencing psychosis and beyond parents of youth to more complex clients with trauma and concurrent disorders. It will provide families with the skills, knowledge, and assistance required to navigate the system,
make informed decisions, and to build strong support networks. Family members will be engaged and offered training to become peer mentors to support other families as a way of sustaining support.

MDAO has a strong reputation as a champion in providing peer support programming to individuals and families impacted by depression, bipolar, and anxiety disorders and we have developed a holistic suite of services over the years. We are considered a model organization for peer support and innovative, creative recovery programs, sustained by a strong network of volunteers who have an incredible amount of passion, commitment, and experience.

In 2011, the MDAO received generous Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) support to start important work in building a strong provincial network. We conducted a comprehensive needs assessment to determine how to best support groups across Ontario and help them provide quality support to their members. A flexible membership structure was developed that met the requirements of diverse groups from different regions. Building upon the enthusiasm and needs of our Ontario Affiliates, in June of 2013 we received additional funding from OTF to launch a three year project. The project is a capacity-building initiative that implements the recommendations emerging from the OTF-funded needs assessment. It will enable us to increase the standardization of peer support and recovery programs, disseminate best practices to member groups, and support Ontario’s regional volunteer networks, thereby ensuring high quality peer support province-wide. Community organizations throughout Ontario are excited to join MDAO in offering these services in their own communities. We are enthusiastic about
this project as well; we believe that it is important to build a rapport and strengthen relationships with our communities in a manner that is consistent with the expressed needs of mood disorders groups across Ontario.